In the dumbbell home workout series, here I’ll share the best back and bicep dumbbell workout for increasing strength and size. So, if you train your biceps and back together or follow a push/pull/leg (PPPL) workout program, this article can be super helpful.
I’ll not only share the best exercises but also hand out some routines to help build sizable biceps and back with dumbbells at home.
Whether you’re a beginner or intermediate, you can do the below exercises to beef up mass.
A Quick List of Back and Biceps Dumbbell Workout
|Dumbbell Bent-Over Row||Alternate Dumbbell Bicep Curl|
|Incline Dumbbell I-Y-T Raises||Incline Dumbbell Bicep Curl|
|Dumbbell Deadlift||Dumbbell Drag Curl|
|Single-arm Dumbbell Row||Incline Prone Dumbbell Bicep Curl|
|Dumbbell Pendlay Row||Dumbbell Concentration Curl|
|Dumbbell Face Pull||Dumbbell One-arm Preacher curl|
|Dumbbell Seal Row||Dumbbell Hammer Curl|
Can You Train Back and Biceps Together?
You can train your back and biceps together. Both are the same type of muscles, meaning they work when you pull or adduct something. It is also one of the famous muscle groups used to train in the PPL workout program.
However, building sizable back and biceps take times. You’ll have to do varieties of exercises with light to heavy dumbbells to maximize growth. Moreover, you’ll have to focus on the form and contraction of the muscles, not on the amount of weight and reps you do.
Let’s see how perform the most effective biceps and back dumbbell workout with proper form and technique.
Best Dumbbell Back Exercises
The dumbbells can help you build a muscular and sizable back if you do the right exercises. I’ve shared the seven best exercises that target each muscle and help build a stronger and wider back.
1. Dumbbell Bent-Over Row
The bent-over is one of the best exercises for growing back muscle. It works on each muscle of the back, such as traps, lats, and infraspinatus.1Fenwick CM, Brown SH, McGill SM. Comparison of different rowing exercises: trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine motion, load, and stiffness. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Mar;23(2):350-8. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181942019. PMID: 19197209.
You can do the bent-over row with both dumbbells and barbells. A barbell allows you to lift more weight, however, the dumbbells provide a full range of motion and help you target the back muscles efficiently.
How to perform a bent-over row with dumbbells:
- Holding one dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip, stand upright in the shoulder-width stance.
- Bend your torso forward so your chest is parallel to the floor. Keep your core tight and back straight. That’s the start.
- Row the dumbbells at your sides until you feel the full contraction in your back muscles.
- Pause for a couple of seconds and lower the dumbbells to the start.
2. Incline Dumbbell I-Y-T Raises
The IYT raises is an advanced upper body dumbbell workout. It strengthens various muscles simultaneously, especially the back and shoulder.
You may haven’t heard it before but it is one of the highly effective back exercises you can do with dumbbells.
It activated four of the five muscles of the back, such as the upper and middle traps, infraspinatus, and erector spine.2ACE-SPONSORED RESEARCH: What Is the Best Back Exercise? by Holly Edelburg, B.S., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Clayton Camic, Ph.D., Attila Kovacs, Ph.D., and Carl Foster, Ph.D., with Daniel J. Green – American Council of ExerciseHowever, it is not effective for the latissimus dorsi (lats). You can do other exercises to target the lats, such as single-arm dumbbell rowing and incline dumbbell pullover.
How to do it:
- Set the bench to a 30-degree incline, grab a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip, and lie on the bench on your stomach with your chest on the edge of it. That’s the start.
- Raise your arms straight in front of you as high as possible. That’s an “I” raise.
- Bring the dumbbells to the start and then raise your arms slightly outward making a “Y” shape.
- Lower your arms to the start and then raise the dumbbells out to the sides until you feel a good contraction in your back. That’s a “T” raise.
- Once you complete all three movements, you’ve done one rep.
3. Dumbbell Deadlift
The dumbbell deadlift is an integrated full-body workout that helps build strength, muscles, and endurance. It primarily works on posterior chain muscles, such as hamstrings, glutes, and the lower back. When done correctly, it efficiently engages back muscles as well.
If you are a beginner or want to lift more weight, use a belt as it helps protect the lower back from injuries.
How to do a dumbbell deadlift:
- Holding one dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip, stand upright in the hip-width stance. Brace your core and maintain an upright posture.
- Hinge at your hips and slightly bend your knees to lower the dumbbells until it reaches just above your feet.
- Keeping your arms straight, lift the dumbbells as you return to the standing position.
- Raise your hips and shoulders at the same range while maintaining a straight back.
- Your hips should slightly come forward while returning to the standing position.
- Do as many reps as you can. Keep the dumbbells close to your body throughout the movement.
4. Single-arm Dumbbell Row
The single-arm dumbbell row is an excellent strength and muscle-building back workout. It also engages bicep muscles when you perform correctly.
How to do a single-arm dumbbell row:
- Grab a dumbbell in your right hand with a neutral grip.
- Place your left knee and hand on the bench for support.
- Keep your core tight, maintain a flat back, and keep your arms straight below your shoulders. That’s the start.
- Row the dumbbell at your side until you feel a good contraction in your back.
- Do an equal number of sets and reps on both sides.
5. Dumbbell Pendlay Row
The Pendlay row is an advanced variation of bent-over rowing. It helps enhance CrossFit workouts, such as clean and press and barbell snatch. It is performed with barbells and dumbbells both. But the dumbbell Pendlay row works excellent for the back.
How to do Pendlay row with dumbbells:
- Holding one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, stand upright with your feet two times hip-width apart.
- Keep your arms straight below your shoulders, brace your core, and hinge at your hips to lean your torso toward the floor.
- Row the dumbbells at your sides until your back muscles are fully engaged.
- Squeezing your lats, hold in that position for a couple of seconds, and then lower the dumbbells to the start. That’s one rep.
6. Dumbbell Face Pull
The dumbbell face pull is a compound movement that works on the back, shoulder, and biceps simultaneously and adds strength and definition to the upper body muscles.
How to do dumbbell face pull:
- Holding one dumbbell in each hand, stand upright in the shoulder-width stance.
- Push your hips back, slightly bend your knees, and lean your torso forward until your chest is parallel to the floor.
- Pull the dumbbells toward your face until your upper back is fully engaged.
- Pause for a moment and then return to the start.
7. Dumbbell Seal Row
The seal row is an effective back and biceps dumbbell workout to increase strength, mass, and mobility. However, it is an advanced exercise and can be challenging for beginners.
How to do DB seal row:
- Place the bench on the foot platform to make it higher.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral and lie prone on the bench.
- Keep your arms straight below your shoulders and toes on the ground.
- Pull the dumbbells to your side as high as possible.
- Squeezing your lats, pause for a moment, and then return to the start.
Best Dumbbell Biceps Exercises
You’ve seen the best dumbbell back exercises, now let’s see how to perform the dumbbell bicep workouts.
1. Alternate Dumbbell Bicep Curl
- Grab one dumbbell in each hand with an underhand grip and stand upright with your feet together. Keep your arms straight and elbows tucked at your sides.
- Curl your right arm until your bicep is engaged.
- Pause for a moment and then uncurl. That’s one rep.
- Perform an equal number of sets and reps on each side.
2. Incline Dumbbell Bicep Curl
- Holding one dumbbell in each hand with an underhand grip, sit on a 50 to 60-degree incline bench with your back resting on the pad.
- Keep your core tight and your arms straight at your sides.
- Curl the dumbbells until the biceps are fully shortened.
- Pause for a moment and extent your arms. That’s one rep.
You can also perform the alternate incline dumbbell curls.
3. Dumbbell Drag Curl
The drag curl is one of the best dumbbell workouts for the back and biceps. It helps increase biceps mass and strengthen the upper traps of the back muscles.
The drag is not popular as hammer and preacher curls but it is more effective than various curls. It creates more tension on your biceps and helps build solid arms. And because of the compound effect (working on multiple muscles simultaneously), it is worth including in your dumbbell back and bicep workout routine.
Here are the steps to perform drag curl with dumbbells:
- Grab one dumbbell in each hand with an underhand grip and keep your arms straight at your sides.
- Driving your elbows backward, curl your arms until the biceps are fully shortened.
- Squeezing your biceps, pause for a moment, and then return your arms to the start. That’s one rep.
4. Incline Prone Dumbbell Bicep Curl
- Holding one dumbbell in each hand, lie prone on a 45-60 degree incline bench. Keep your arms straight below your shoulders with palms facing forward.
- Curl your arms toward your shoulder until you feel a good biceps contraction.
- You can wait for a moment before lowering the dumbbells to the start.
You can also do alternate curl in the way to target one arm at a time.
5. Dumbbell Concentration Curl
The concentration curl is one of the effective bicep workouts for growing strength and size. It puts your biceps under constant tension and allows you to concentrate effectively on the biceps during the entire movement.
How to do a concentration curl:
- Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, sit on the edge of a bench.
- Lean forward and place your right elbow on the inner part of your right thigh. Keep your other hand on the left knee for support.
- Curl your arm until your bicep is fully contracted.
- Squeezing your biceps, hold for a moment, and then uncurl your arm. That’s one rep!
6. Dumbbell One-arm Preacher curl
- Incline the bench at an appropriate height, nearly at a 60-degree.
- Holding a dumbbell in either of your hands, stand against the bench and place the back of the arm on the pad.
- Contracting your biceps, curl your arm up to shoulder level.
- Hold for a second and return to the initial position. That’s one rep!
7. Dumbbell Hammer Curl
- Holding a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, keep your arms straight at your sides in the standing position.
- Curl one arm up to shoulder level of the same hand, pause for a moment at the top to squeeze your bicep, and then slowly uncurl your arm. That’s one rep.
- Perform an equal number of sets and reps for each arm.
Dumbbell Back and Bicep Workout Routine To Do At Home
45-min Typical Back and Biceps Workout with Dumbbells
- Dumbbell Bent-Over Row: 3 sets x 10 reps, 60-sec rest
- Incline Dumbbell I-Y-T Raises: 3 sets x 6 reps, 60-90 sec rest
- Dumbbell Pendley Row: 3 sets x 10 reps, 60-sec rest
- Alternate Dumbbell Bicep Curl: 3 sets x 10 reps, 60-sec rest
- Dumbbell Concentration Curl: 3 sets x 10 reps, 60-sec rest
- Dumbbell Hammer Curl: 3 sets x 10 reps, 60-sec rest
30-min Intense Dumbbell Back and Biceps Superset
- 12 reps – Dumbbell Bent-Over Row
- 10 reps – Alternate Dumbbell Bicep Curl
- 8 reps – Incline Dumbbell I-Y-T Raises
- 10 reps – Incline Dumbbell Bicep Curl
- 8 reps – Dumbbell Deadlift
- 10 reps – Dumbbell Drag Curl
- 10 reps – Dumbbell Pendley Row
- 8 reps – Dumbbell Concentration Curl
- 10 reps – Single-arm Dumbbell Row
- 10 reps – Dumbbell Hammer Curl
- 10 reps – Dumbbell Seal Row
- 10 reps – Dumbbell One-arm Preacher curl
Advanced 30-min Biceps and Back Drop Set
- Dumbbell Bent-Over Row: 2 sets of 8 and 12 reps
- Incline Dumbbell I-Y-T Raises: 2 sets of 6 and 8 reps
- Dumbbell Pendley Row: 2 sets of 8 and 12 reps
- Single-arm Dumbbell Row: 2 sets of 6 and 10 reps
- Alternate Dumbbell Bicep Curl: 2 sets of 8 and 12 reps
- Dumbbell One-arm Preacher curl: 2 sets of 8 and 12 reps
- Dumbbell Drag Curl: 2 sets of 6 and 10 reps
- Dumbbell Hammer Curl: 2 sets of 8 and 12 reps
Back and Bicep Dumbbell Workout PDF
You can download a PDF file of the all exercises and the routine if you want.
FAQs about Biceps And Back Dumbbell Workout
Should I start with the back or biceps?
You should always start with the large muscles when you train large and small muscles together because big muscles require more strength and energy. So, here you should start with the back first.
Should you superset the biceps and back?
You can do superset back and bicep workouts with dumbbells. However, both are the same type of muscles, meaning they work when you pull or adduct something. So, it will be challenging to do superset but you can give it a try.
If you want to do superset training, check out these best examples.
How often should you do the back and bicep workout?
Train your back and biceps once a week if you work out three to four days a week and twice if you workout six days a week.
- 1Fenwick CM, Brown SH, McGill SM. Comparison of different rowing exercises: trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine motion, load, and stiffness. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Mar;23(2):350-8. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181942019. PMID: 19197209.
- 2ACE-SPONSORED RESEARCH: What Is the Best Back Exercise? by Holly Edelburg, B.S., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Clayton Camic, Ph.D., Attila Kovacs, Ph.D., and Carl Foster, Ph.D., with Daniel J. Green – American Council of Exercise